Believe it or not, Paul McCartney was 14 years old when he wrote When I’m 64. What could he possibly have known about growing old at such a tender age? Well, I’ve learned a thing or two about the subject in the last couple of weeks as I had my Beatles birthday – you know, my 64th – just before Christmas. For the most part, it feels pretty much the same as 63, but I’ll report back after ball hockey season opens in April.
I must confess, I’m still coming to grips with my advancing age. It’s crazy. Every year I seem to get, well, another year older. When I see a story in the newspaper or read a novel about a 64-year-old, I do not think of me. I picture somebody else, you know, somebody older and greyer. Yet when I catch my reflection in a mirror or see my image on a security monitor – and I don’t mean in the midst of a robbery, but just lining up at the bank machine – it’s possible that I’m finally starting to see a guy in his early 60s (and yes, 64 officially qualifies as “early 60s”). I honestly don’t know what happened. I don’t know where the years have gone. Yes, I completely buy into all those clichés about “time flying.” I guess they’ve become clichés because they’re all too true.
I have such vivid memories of our two sons when they were newborns and then toddlers. What I can’t explain is how they are now 31 and 28. As you may be able to tell, I’ve been wrestling with my age for a few years now. I even tackled the subject in my recent novel, A New Season. My brilliant idea was to give my narrator the same bewildered feelings on aging that I have been experiencing in the hopes that I might learn something in the process. I think the act of writing the novel may well have helped. I seem to be more accepting of the cold hard facts of my situation.
I am 64. There, I said it. I can’t debate the reality of my birthday. I was born at the very end of 1959. It says so on my birth certificate, backed up by all the power and authority of the Ontario government. Not to make matters worse, but that means I’ve actually lived in eight different decades if you can wrap your mind around that mathematical anomaly. I’m still trying.
I know what my Leaside readers who are in their 70s and 80s are thinking right about now. A sample: “I wish this guy would shut up.” “Cry me a river.” “Just you wait, and you’ll soon be pining for your 60s.”
I know, I know. And they’re right. I’m making more of this than I ought to. If I’m completely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life. At 64, I’m one lucky dude. We all have good friends and family who never made it to 64. And as my wife keeps reminding me, being 64 today is much different from being 64 in our parents’ generation. Being in your 60s today is like being in your 50s three decades ago. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. After all, I still play ball hockey. I still wear slim-fit jeans (although they’re feeling tighter each time I squeeze into them). I still feel younger than I am. I identify as a 35-year-old… okay, maybe 45.
Sure, I’m up more often in the night than I used to be, but that just gives me more awake-time to enjoy life! Sure, my recovery time after a ball hockey game is longer than it once was, but that’s why we only schedule one game a week. And sure, it’s possible that my hearing is no longer quite so acute. But I’m enjoying life at 64, perhaps more than at any other stage of my life. So, yeah, as I write this, I’m 64. All good. I got this. And I’m looking forward to my ball hockey game tonight. But no calls tomorrow morning, please.
A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis grew up in Leaside and is the award-winning writer of nine national bestsellers, all published by McClelland & Stewart. His most recent, A New Season, is now in bookstores.